PREMIERE: The Drew Thomson Foundation Reminisce on Tour Life in “Break” Video

The Single Mothers vocalist also chats with Stefan Babcock about his recent tour with PUP.
PREMIERE: The Drew Thomson Foundation Reminisce on Tour Life in “Break” Video

The Single Mothers vocalist also chats with Stefan Babcock about his recent tour with PUP.

Words: Mike LeSuer

photo by Ryan Brough

May 07, 2020

Right now, we’re pretty much all taking a break—everything from work, to socializing, to paying rent (oh wait!) have been put on hold while the world struggles to fight off a lethal virus. For Drew Thomson, this break specifically entails the indefinite hiatus of his solo project’s tour with fellow Torontonians PUP following the release of The Drew Thomson Foundation’s debut LP (itself a break from Drew’s main gig fronting Single Mothers).

“Break” also happens to be the name of one of the songs on the DTF’s self-titled album, though it details a break of a different sort. “There was a Greyhound station around the corner from my apartment in London, ON that would fill up with university and college students every weekend during the school year,” Thomson recalls. “These kids would be heading back to Toronto or the surrounding area to their parents’ house or wherever and I would pass them by very often. In the crowds there would be new couples  saying goodbye for the first time. Do you remember love in the time of first year? Lunch dates at the student union building? Was everything so new and important?”

He continues, “There is a barrier between first semester and second. You’ve figured out where everything is. You’re a volunteer at the radio station. You have a favourite sandwich artist at the Subway. A lot of those new sprouting interests become stale. Maybe the shine has started to wane and the weight of student debt has begun to form an impression. Perhaps that  new love which emerged from your mutual interest in The Mountain Goats seems a little less unique. Routines begin to settle. Maybe you need a break to re-asses and figure out if they’re the one for you.”

Fondly recalling life on the road, Thomson is sharing a new video for the reflective single, compiled from footage of their recent run of shows with PUP. You can catch that below, and read on for a Q&A between Thomson and PUP’s Stefan Babcock about their ill-fated tour.

Drew Thomson: So, this was the first tour we had done together. Do you think the PUP crowd liked The Drew Thomson Foundation?

Stefan Babcock: Yes. Although our bands sound pretty different, I think there’s a kinship in the kinds of songs we write. I watched you guys almost every night, and within ten minutes you always had the room’s full attention.

Do you remember that kid who threw the shoe at you…I think it was in Portland? Does that happen a lot? Do you have anything you want to say to kids that might not understand the difference between you getting in the crowd and the crowd getting into your space? 

It happens once in a while, but honestly quite rarely. For the most part, our crowds are rowdy but respectful. But once in a while an asshole pops up. You probably know from Single Mothers, but some people take a lot of these lyrics at face value and have decided that I’m an antagonistic piece of shit (I am sometimes, but not usually), and want to fight me or fuck me up or something. I’m a hundred and ten pounds soaking wet, I’m not fighting anyone. But I’ve got a pretty sharp tongue, plus a microphone, and am pretty good at tearing those people down from the stage. I won’t let them ruin this thing for me or anyone—I still go into the crowd a lot, and I still love the feeling that us and the crowd are all in this thing together. We depend on each other to have a good time and to pick each other up—not just at the show, but in life. 

There were a lot of amazing nights on this tour before it was cut short. Maybe it’s because I’m not used to shows of that size, but I thought the energy and the crowds were phenomenal, especially ramping up and into all this COVID-19 stuff. Did anything stand out to you? As the news started rolling in I wonder if people thought, “This might be my last chance to see a concert, better enjoy it.” Did you feel that at all?

Yeah, this run of shows was a lot of fun. There were so many highlights, but I’m remembering our Denver show and how goofy and energetic the crowd was, and how there was just a really, really great vibe in the room that night. When the COVID stuff started happening, I felt like the shows started getting a little weird. Like people were excited to be there, but nervous—which is completely understandable. The last few shows felt a little off to me, and there was a lot of ethical pressure as to whether we should play or cancel. I’m glad the decision was eventually made for us.

What is your favourite The Drew Thomson Foundation song and why? Please go into detail. 

[Laughs.] “A Little More Time” is unreal. It’s a perfect little pop gem. That chorus is just so simple but effective. One thing I’m always trying to do with songwriting is distill what I’m trying to say down to as few words as possible that’ll perfectly capture the emotion. I mostly fail at that, but you absolutely nailed it on that song. It’s one of those songs that’s near the top of the “I wish I had written that” list. To be honest there are a lot of DTF and Single Mothers songs on that list.

For bands that are always on the road, touring can sometimes lose its shine. Has that ever happened to you? If so, do you think after this forced break you’ll have a revived appreciation for it?

Yeah for sure. At times when you’re in month seven of a nine-month ripper, it can start to feel like you’re going through the motions. We always have a great time playing the shows, but everything else just starts to feel like a grind, and every night we count on the crowd to pick us up. This’ll probably end up being the longest break from touring we’ve ever taken, and I know there’ll be a ton of pent up energy when we get back at it. I miss it already, which is strange to say because I am known to complain about touring constantly. I guess the grass is always greener. 

Thanks for doing this and bringing us on tour—if the fans were to demand it, would you bring The Drew Thomson Foundation out again?

Yes! That would be fun. Touring together amidst the biggest global crisis in our lifetime was not the most satisfying experience.